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Current State – MN Deer Management

  • jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2159906

    Keep the great discussion points a coming! Good stuff!!!

    BigWerm
    Participant
    Carver
    Posts: 6441
    #2159920

    Was talking to a friend of mine, who hunts by Lake Vermillion. He said the neighboring 3 properties have gone from 20-30 guys hunting to none that he was aware of. He said they have more deer, and more nice deer, on camera than ever in the 10 years they’ve owned the property, but see far fewer during season which he believes is due to lack of activity nearby, especially one neighbor who exclusively did deer drives.

    M F
    Participant
    Posts: 14
    #2159922

    We used to have every property in the area doing deer drives, so deer were always on the move. It wasn’t uncommon to see a herd of 20+ running across the valley and into another party doing a different drive. These days it’s pretty much just us doing drives still, and while we don’t see as many deer as we did 20 years ago, we still see plenty. We’ve consistently shot around 20 per year off roughly 500 acres for nearly 20 years.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 8746
    #2159938

    We’ve consistently shot around 20 per year off roughly 500 acres for nearly 20 years.

    That’s a pretty good haul for sure! Nice to have that much land too!

    deertracker
    Participant
    Posts: 8175
    #2159966

    I hunt in NW MN. My results are skewed though as I hunt a large tract of private. We average less than one hunter per 100 acres. We usually shoot multiple mature bucks each season. This year, during the youth season, we hardly saw any deer. I know they are around as we have them on camera. Most of the does seen had two fawns this year. Multiple does had three. It is usually not uncommon to see 20 deer in a sit. This year we really struggled to see deer. I did see numerous small bucks chasing though and actually saw mature does, so I know they were not locked down by mature bucks. That was until Thursday morning. I did not see a mature doe after that.

    One of my hunting partners shot a buck that had a belly full of clean corn. We have standing corn on the property but it had not been getting hit hard enough to come from there. His stand was closer to the property line as well.
    DT

    Krh129
    Participant
    Posts: 64
    #2159997

    I hunt/own 120 acres in Zone 213 just north of Lake Osakis. It is in that transition area and is a mix of ag, low ground and woods.

    The deer are more plentiful now then when I bought it and extra doe tags have been available for years. We are also seeing nicer bucks as well. Not sure why exactly that is, we may just be better hunters then when we first started, but about 7 years ago unless you are a kid or hunting with one, we started requiring 4 pts on 1 side to shoot a buck, it is $75 additional into the Sunday Vikings bar bill if violated. We encourage does for people who want meat and shoot 3-4 a year. Several other land owners have put restrictions on as well. Who knows if there is a relationship or not.

    The number of hunters in the area has declined a great deal groups of 8-10 are now 2-4. hardly anyone on the WMA’s etc. We have 8-10 and have a good mix of ages with more youngsters on their way. We are the only group that looks to be growing. There was a time when any deer you saw after opening morning was running or moving because of all the activity and deer drives ( which we never did) it as like the wild Wild West, Now the atmosphere for gun season is more like archery season, pretty quiet deer do not seem pressured. I like the atmosphere of the hunt better now than before but will admit I get worried and bothered by it as well. Makes me wonder where this is headed.

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2160289

    So looking at all the great comments, I would like to try to summarize:

    From a management standpoint – there definitely is opportunity on both ends of the spectrum that need to be addressed. Locations in the state – and even within a certain “area” can play a significant role in deer population models.

    From a historical standpoint, significantly less drives are reducing the movement of deer – along with the reduction of hunting heritage within families and friends. Also the loss of hunting ground and attainable land use permission is reducing the influx of new hunters to replace.

    From a social standpoint – hunting has become more of a “my buck is bigger than your buck” and individuals have fallen into the hunting show mentality – but also with youth demands from outside factors (sports, etc.) are impairing the ability to get into hunting at a young age.

    It’s looking like we will have 2 data points (the last two years) with less deer taken. Next year will determine if we truly do have a true trend downward (3 data points in one direction determines a true trend).

    Good stuff! I really liked the conversations held and as I see it – nobody is wrong!!

    beardly
    Participant
    Hastings, Mn
    Posts: 333
    #2160292

    I hunt 118 and 605. Both zones have far different different habitat…. Zone 118 has been on a significant downward trend for deer sightings and harvest the last 5 years. There has never really been alot of deer but we are now seeing more wolves or wolves sign than deer. This year was the worst year for us and many camps in the zone. Many of us hunt dusk to dawn and don’t see a deer over the week we are up there. Sometimes this is a normal occurrence for hunting but not for every person at multiple camps….

    Zone 605 has been decimated with the CWD management. When I first moved here it was either sex with bucks having antler restrictions (had many nice bucks on cameras), then 2 deer, then about 3 years ago all restrictions were removed and you could kill as many as you wanted. The neighbors were having contests. Every small buck was shot. Now we are a 5 deer zone with no restrictions. The deer heard in the area is not even close to the same for numbers or caliber. Our closest cwd positive deer is well over 20 miles from us. Just a shame what happens in these cwd zones.

    Justin riegel
    Participant
    Posts: 518
    #2160324

    I agree with you Beardly

    I do as well. 100x more deer are killed in the name of CWD than yhe actual disease.

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2160327

    That brings up another question to all. In the name of CWD, how many deer, have you found in the wild, dead in CWD zones, that you cannot say died from gunshots, car collisions, or from predators. Of all the time spent in the woods hunting, shed hunting and hiking in 342 – I cannot say I ever have. The kills I found that I cannot conclusively say, have all been yearlings and that doesn’t fit the supposed mold of CWD.

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2160328

    That brings up another question to all. In the name of CWD, how many deer, have you found in the wild, dead in CWD zones, that you cannot say died from gunshots, car collisions, or from predators. Of all the time spent in the woods hunting, shed hunting and hiking in 342 – I cannot say I ever have. The kills I found that I cannot conclusively say, have all been yearlings and that doesn’t fit the supposed mold of CWD.

    gimruis
    Participant
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts: 7217
    #2160398

    The central part of Wisconsin has has CWD in their wild deer herd for many years longer than we have. The WDNR has essentially just given up on trying to control it there.

    I’m not saying that its the solution here, but it also hasn’t been the solution there. Because its still present. Honestly I’m not sure if you can completely control it. You just have to try and manage it.

    M F
    Participant
    Posts: 14
    #2160710

    That brings up another question to all. In the name of CWD, how many deer, have you found in the wild, dead in CWD zones, that you cannot say died from gunshots, car collisions, or from predators. Of all the time spent in the woods hunting, shed hunting and hiking in 342 – I cannot say I ever have. The kills I found that I cannot conclusively say, have all been yearlings and that doesn’t fit the supposed mold of CWD.

    The difference between CWD and something like EHD is that they’re unlikely to specifically die from CWD, but it brings their mental and physical abilities down enough that they get hit by cars, eaten by predators, etc. Unless it’s in the later stages of the disease, you can’t really tell if a deer has CWD without getting it tested.

    Not to mention 342 there hasn’t been a positive yet, likely because there aren’t many (or any) deer farms in that area.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    Carver
    Posts: 6441
    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1124
    #2160742

    Well, we wrapped up the season in 181 yesterday by sitting all day Sat and Sun, bringing it to a total of 8 full days hunted by anywhere from 3 to 5 people depending on the day (I hunted all 8 days). We only saw 3 deer (all does) all weekend which was a fitting end to an overall disappointing season. My group has hunted this 100 acre property on the river for 5 years now and this is the first year that not a single trigger was pulled by our group for the entire season. We only heard 2 gunshots all weekend. Overall a very disappointing season and we can only hope that the future is brighter.

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2160767

    As of today, YTD MN is sitting at 149k harvested. This includes archery. Last year approximately 10k with muzzleloaders. Throw in an extra 5k for late season archery and remaining 3B/late season – we are going to be well, well short of the 184k last year – and more in line with harvest numbers in 2014-2015.

    Michael Best
    Participant
    Posts: 247
    #2160773

    With harvest numbers down there should be more deer on the landscape next year if Mother Nature cooperates.

    Just curious how many gun tags were sold this year? Is that info out there for the public yet?

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 3816
    #2160788

    Harvest numbers are still only one side of the story. I drug myself out this weekend and sat on Sunday for 5 hours on our MN piece for the first time. I saw 6 deer. The first was a flickering tail I kicked up on my way in. The next was was a 10 with a busted brow that was a “next year” type buck from ~100 yards away, followed by a fork, a doe and fawn, and another mature doe. I had my sights on the last doe broadside at 30 yards for a good 5 minutes before opting not to pull the trigger. I didn’t want to deal with cutting it up and whatnot as my spare time is non-existent and I already had work to do that I was putting off. It was good to get out, realistically I probably wasn’t pulling the trigger on anything that didn’t warrant a shoulder mount.

    If just going off harvest numbers to make generalizations, my situation may incorrectly reflect a hunter who did not see deer or is a data point towards lower deer populations. That’s not the case though as our numbers are likely on-par with what they have been the last 20 years.

    Each area of MN is so vastly different with populations fluctuating up, down, or following historical norms. I do think there are more hunters with my mindset than people realize who aren’t necessarily going to harvest deer they see.

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2160812

    And I don’t disagree with you either buckybadger. I think once we know the total sales of licenses, individual number of hunters, etc. that will help.
    Next year though statistically will tell us if there is a true trend down with deer harvest and then I can throw data into minitab and look at correlations, etc.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    Carver
    Posts: 6441
    #2160813

    It would be interesting to see the historical deer harvest #’s when there is a full moon opener weekend. Seems like we were discussing a low harvest last time it happened too. And I’m pretty sure I had heard over half of the total deer taken in a season, are taken opening hour of the opening day or something like that.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1124
    #2160814

    BigWerm, I was wondering the same thing about the full moon. It certainly did not help anything.

    Carter Johnson
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 909
    #2160820

    Why would full moon matter? Is the thought deer dont move in daylight during full moons?

    BigWerm
    Participant
    Carver
    Posts: 6441
    #2160827

    Why would full moon matter? Is the thought deer dont move in daylight during full moons?

    Yeah the general idea is they go more nocturnal during a full moon, and if they are up all night feeding and f…breeding they sleep during the day. And with fewer deer drives they have no reason to get up and get moving.

    Carter Johnson
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 909
    #2160831

    Thanks for filling me in. Never heard of that idea. Seems reasonable

    Michael Best
    Participant
    Posts: 247
    #2160835

    I used to by into the full moon affected deer movement until I started hunting out of state in 2007.

    Over the years I haven’t seen the moon affecting things if temps were at average or below average.
    Now if you throw in a full moon with warm temps that was a different story.

    Carter Johnson
    Participant
    Anoka County
    Posts: 909
    #2160900

    Another thing that would be interesting to look at would be deer units with wolves vs hunter success rates. And even deer units that recently became part of the wolf range. Those units success rates before wolves were known of in their unit vs after.

    Jimmy Jones
    Participant
    Posts: 183
    #2160917

    We had a full moon for the first season opener, but we also had clouds and light rain and wind here in 341. I saw deer almost immediately after it started to get light, then nothing until just after 3 when the rain stopped, and the sun came out intermittently. We had broken moonlight that night and it was fairly clear heading to the stand on Sunday. Same as Saturday, deer right away then not so much until around two in the afternoon when several deer moved thru over a couple hours. In the past if we have COLD weather during the full moon, we have had deer traffic all day, so I think this year’s opener with the milder weather just kept deer from moving so much, but then too we had hardly any hunter traffic and zero drives in the area I was at. A lot of factors contribute to one seeing deer, but the lack of hunter activity has to be a huge one.

    haleysgold
    Participant
    SE MN
    Posts: 882
    #2160949

    Mr. Jones – You mean 342? Not that it matters. grin

    I noticed the full moon and warm temps did not help daylight deer movement.
    I have an open field behind the house so at midnight, I could look out and it was crawling with deer. All night long for that matter. Then about 6 AM, nothing.
    Daylight hours had a few up and moving but not until at least 10 AM.
    Most of them are up running and gunnin while the moon is out and it’s cooler than than the day.
    11 until 1 showed a lot of activity on cams but from little bucks and does, all of them getting a drink of water.

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 9387
    #2161444

    Harvest numbers are still only one side of the story. I drug myself out this weekend and sat on Sunday for 5 hours on our MN piece for the first time. I saw 6 deer. The first was a flickering tail I kicked up on my way in. The next was was a 10 with a busted brow that was a “next year” type buck from ~100 yards away, followed by a fork, a doe and fawn, and another mature doe. I had my sights on the last doe broadside at 30 yards for a good 5 minutes before opting not to pull the trigger. I didn’t want to deal with cutting it up and whatnot as my spare time is non-existent and I already had work to do that I was putting off. It was good to get out, realistically I probably wasn’t pulling the trigger on anything that didn’t warrant a shoulder mount.
    If just going off harvest numbers to make generalizations, my situation may incorrectly reflect a hunter who did not see deer or is a data point towards lower deer populations. That’s not the case though as our numbers are likely on-par with what they have been the last 20 years.

    Each area of MN is so vastly different with populations fluctuating up, down, or following historical norms. I do think there are more hunters with my mindset than people realize who aren’t necessarily going to harvest deer they see.

    Agree with everything you write and this shows just how sketchy it is to form conclusions on how deer are/should be managed based on hunter harvest and/or license sales.

    I would also add that the up/down harvest data doesn’t indicate a “bad” or “good” trend because none of this addresses what the population SHOULD be in a given area. I hear a lot of guys referencing harvest stats from the peak of the deer population years of the late 90s and early 2000s as “evidence” of how the DNR has “mismanaged” deer herds. But that only is true if you believe that the super-high numbers should represent the target population. In my area, I think those super-high numbers were too high of a deer density and I have no desire to go back to those population numbers. I think today’s numbers are much closer to what the target should be, again in my area.

    Also, there is just a night and day difference in my area as far as hunter participation and effort. This makes going back to a very high population an even worse idea because at the current level of hunter participation and effort, hunters wouldn’t be able to even make a dent in the overall population if the numbers went back to 2000s levels, so the only thing managing the herd would be winter kill, disease, and wolves. Again, NOT a situation I’d want.

    Also, the reality is that which Bucky points out. A lot of hunters are out there antler hunting. And I’m not criticizing that. But it is what it is as far as the impact on the overall management of deer by hunters, there are simply way more guys passing on deer after deer looking for a big buck. BTW, don’t let my posts here lead you to assume we only shoot bucks off of my farm, I have guests hunting that all do their part, I don’t post anything online about our guests and what they choose to harvest.

    This year off of my farm and the 2 largest properties directly adjacent, we took a combined 10 deer off so far. I would like to have seen a few more harvested and a bigger share of does taken rather than spike bucks, but overall I feel like this is getting close to the harvest numbers I want in our section.

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